Volunteers prepare for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2023
OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - In less than two weeks, EAA AirVenture will bring hundreds of thousands of aviation fans to Oshkosh.
Preparations begin every spring as soon as the snow melts, and hundreds of volunteers are already on-site.
EAA AirVenture brings its nickname as the “World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration” to life when the Wittman Regional Airport becomes the busiest airport on the planet for a few days every July.
“It’s kind of fun, it is the calm before the storm, you kind of feel like part of a circus roustabout team in a way where we’re setting things up and getting ready for the big event,” said Mike Dooley, a co-chairman at EAA AirVenture Homebuilders Headquarters.
“Usually we’re here like a month of so earlier but, yeah, it’s pretty crazy to go from just the pasture to, you know, thousands of RVs,” said Heidi Hull, an EAA AirVenture volunteer who travels with her husband and four kids from Virginia every summer.
Last year, AirVenture saw record crowds, with more than 650,000 people attending the weeklong event.
“There’s a lot of preparation going on, everything from volunteers on the grounds doing everything from planting flowers, building picnic tables, painting buildings to the exhibitors are starting to be put up, a lot of tents going up,” said EAA Spokesperson Dick Knapinski.
Hundreds of volunteers are already on the EAA grounds with their campers set up.
“That’s really the secret sauce of what we do here and what makes the event so effective every year because they work thousands of hours to make sure it goes off well,” Knapinski said.
“We love ‘behind-the-scenes,’ making things happen,” Hull explained.
Volunteering has become a tradition for many people, including families who work together.
“So it makes it affordable for our family of six to be able to come to a thing if we volunteer, so perks of doing that,” Hull said.
Others come back each summer to see their group of EAA friends.
“It’s a great bunch of folks, we come from all over the country. We’ve got volunteers from Utah, Florida, Alabama, I’m from Kansas City and you know we just have a great time,” Dooley said.
EAA AirVenture runs from July 24-30.
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